Thursday, August 27, 2009

Celtic Corner: Naked With Friends

Maura O'Connell has long been a respected power vocalist in the Celtic-Americana community, infusing country and folk with traditional Irish music. Her recent release Naked with Friends showcases her vocals like no other album before. Why? It's all a capella, and it guest stars many of my favorite musical artists. Dolly Parton and Kate Rusby provide harmonies on the first track "The Bright Blue Rose," one of my favorites. My favorite track is unfortunately the shortest: "Mo Sheamuseen" is the Irish Gaelic tune with the low harmony of...get this...Jerry Douglas! What?! Who knew the Dobro player of the century was a damn good vocalist too? I didn't, but I'm hoping he'll guest vocal on upcoming albums. Other highlights include: the deceitful lover story in "The Blacksmith" with the fantastic Celtic-Americana artist Tim O'Brien; a sad tune of the deaths involved with the title subject "Shipbuilding" with Darrell Scott; "Anach Cuain" with my favorite male Irish folk artist Paul Brady--another Gaelic tune; "I Know My Love," a sassy little traditional tune with three guests Mairead Ni Mhaeonaigh (lead singer and fiddler of Altan), Moya Brennan (member of new age Irish group Clannad and sister to Enya); and the Spanish song "Hay Una Mujer Desapercida" with haunting harmonies by Aine Derrane (background vocalist on Maura's previous album) and Sarah Dugas of The Duhks. Other guests include Alison Krauss on a Janis Ian song "Some People's Lives" and Aoife O'Donovan of rising bluegrass band Crooked Still with Dugas on "Arrow." You guys, if you're a fan of a capella and folk tunes...heck, even is you're a fan of quality music, this if for you!

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